Continuing with the theme of teacher quality from my previous post…

Just up the road and across the river from here, Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of Schools for the District of Columbia, thinks she’s found a way to make the teachers in her schools better.

Pay them a whole lot more and at the same time make it a whole lot easier for her to fire teachers who don’t measure up. To what standards is not quite clear but you can bet it has something to do with test scores.

However, in this economy, where is the money going to come from to make her grand plans happen?

For the first five years Rhee says funding for the pay increase will come from $100 million in grants provided by large foundations (the names of which are being kept secret), with another $100 million for teacher training and other improvements. After that, she says DC can sustain the costs.

However, putting aside the question of whether the concepts at the foundation of Rhee’s proposal are valid, a bigger question is whether any major school reform program can or should be based on private money.

If we really want to have a quality public education system, one that provides students with the foundational skills to be a successful part of American society, shouldn’t the public be willing to pay for it?

For that matter, shouldn’t the public also be involved with planning and making it work?